Posted by Larry Gleeson
Jamie Zach’s Palm Trees and Power Lines, starring Jonathan Tucker and Lily McInerny made its World Premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival this week. The film is an adaptation of Zach’s 2017 short film of the same title.
What begins with an irascible state of condition for 17-year-old high school, party girl Lea, portrayed by Lily McInerny, ends with a state of affairs no one would want or imagine for their friend or child. Lea seems adrift and writer/director Jamie Dack while not pinpointing what has led Lea to her current state, drops hints. Meanwhile, the mounting, turbulent energy finds a vessel when thirty-four-year-old Tom rescues Lea from a teenage group dine and dash incident. Tom takes an interest in Lea, and Zack represents this with a powerful piece of camera work inside the dining establishment prior to the dine and dash incident.
Lea welcomes Tom’s attention and flattery as her high-school, hook-up boyfriend would rather find ways to condescend. Tom, portrayed by Jonathan Tucker, is a smooth operator. Within a short period of time, he has Lea isolated from her friends and her mother. Lea has no father figure in her life and Tom slithers into the role of father and Prince Charming. While imagining what is going on inside a grooming process is not readily accesible, Zach uses McInerny and Tucker to present a believable version with Tom prostituting Lea.
What unfolds may keep Zach’s work hidden outside the parameters of independent film and the festival circuit. Nevertheless, a well-told, cautionary tale by another fresh, nuanced voice from a writer/director reminiscent of Chloe Zhao and her 2021 Academy Award-winning work, Nomadland.
*This film contains sexual content that some viewers may find disturbing.